By: Amy Grant
Can’t start the day without a glass of orange juice? You certainly aren’t alone. Oranges in their many forms — juice, pulp and rind — are sought after fruits throughout the world. Generally speaking, orange juice as we know it in North America comes from navel oranges. Just how many orange varieties are there? Let’s find out.
The sweet orange (Citrus aurantium var. sinensis) is not to be found in the wild. It is a hybrid, although of which two types there is much conjecture. Most sources seem to settle on the marriage between the pomelo (Citrus maxima) and the mandarin (Citrus reticulata).
Confusion surrounds the origin of cultivation as well, but it is assumed to have first been grown in China, northeastern India and possible southeastern Asia. Italian traders carried the fruit to the Mediterranean around 1450, or Portuguese traders around 1500. Up to that point, oranges were primarily used for medicinal purposes, but wealthy aristocrats soon seized upon the fragrant, succulent fruit for themselves.
There are two basic categories of orange: the sweet orange (C. sinensis) and the bitter orange (C. aurantium).
Sweet orange is divided into four classes, each with distinct characteristics:
Also included among the sweet common orange varieties is an original citrus species, the mandarin. Amongst its many cultivars are:
Of the bitter oranges, there exists:
Some oriental fruits are included in the category of bitter orange as well. These include:
Wow! As you can see there are a dizzying variety of oranges out there. Certainly there must be a type of orange suited just to you and your morning orange juice fix!
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Read more about Orange Trees
The orange is the fruit of various citrus species in the family Rutaceae (see list of plants known as orange) it primarily refers to Citrus × sinensis,  which is also called sweet orange, to distinguish it from the related Citrus × aurantium, referred to as bitter orange. The sweet orange reproduces asexually (apomixis through nucellar embryony) varieties of sweet orange arise through mutations.    
The orange is a hybrid between pomelo (Citrus maxima) and mandarin (Citrus reticulata).   The chloroplast genome, and therefore the maternal line, is that of pomelo.  The sweet orange has had its full genome sequenced. 
The orange originated in a region encompassing Southern China, Northeast India, and Myanmar,   and the earliest mention of the sweet orange was in Chinese literature in 314 BC.  As of 1987 [update] , orange trees were found to be the most cultivated fruit tree in the world.  Orange trees are widely grown in tropical and subtropical climates for their sweet fruit. The fruit of the orange tree can be eaten fresh, or processed for its juice or fragrant peel.  As of 2012 [update] , sweet oranges accounted for approximately 70% of citrus production. 
In 2019, 79 million tonnes of oranges were grown worldwide, with Brazil producing 22% of the total, followed by China and India. 
First thing to remember: the orange tree can only be planted directly in the ground in regions where it doesn’t freeze in winter.
In areas where winters are on the cold side, you must plant your orange tree in a large garden box.
In winter, try to place it in a very bright room, where the temperature should not drop below 41 to 43°F (5 to 6° C) during this time.
Early spring, you can bring it out for it to spend the rest of the year outdoors.
When planting or repotting, favor a blend of soil mix and plant-based soil without any chalk, one part each.
Repotting is preferably in spring, after the fruit harvest or at the end of summer before flowering.
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asli barcin / Getty Images
Valencia oranges have thin skins, some seeds, and are very juicy, which makes them the perfect (and most common) type of orange used to make orange juice. These oranges are perfectly delicious to eat as fruit as well—you just have to watch out for the seeds.
If you are squeezing a few, consider saving some of the juice to make a Valencia cocktail—a refreshing combination of apricot brandy, fresh orange juice, and orange bitters.
Imported from Brazil to Washington, D.C. in 1870, the navel orange was introduced into Florida and California. All navals are descended from a single seedless orange tree from a Brazilian plantation. It is now the leading fresh orange variety in the United States, according to the “Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink.” Naval oranges are seedless, large, easy to peel with a thick skin and easy to segment. Offering high levels of both acidity and sugars, they are prized for their sweet, rich and delicious juice. Like all oranges, navals are high in vitamin C.
The outer skin of the ruby blood oranges is dark orange, and the pulp inside is pinkish or deep orange, pink or red pigment. The orange looks similar to grapefruit when sliced open, however, the taste is still sweet like any other orange. The ruby blood orange is sometimes mistaken for a small grapefruit because of it's appearance. The fruit is medium-sized and circular.
Many orange varieties exist for consumers to enjoy and the industry is constantly trying to produce new and exciting varieties to meet consumer demands and needs. The main varieties of oranges are: Summer Navel (Lane Late, Barnfield and Wilson), Valencia (Valencia), and Winter Navel (Washington, Navelina and Leng). 38% of the orange area is planted to Winter Navels, 45% to Valencia and 17% to Summer Navels. (ref: PIRSA Horticulture)
Navel oranges – sweet, juicy and full of zest. Usually seedless, they are easy to peel and ideal as a healthy snack at any time of the day.
Navel and Navelina are seedless oranges that take their names from the Navel protuberance at the end, which contains a tiny embryonic fruit. They have thick, pebbly skins and very sweet juicy flesh. The skin is particularly good for making preserves or as candied peel. The Navel oranges thrive in such subtropical climates as the Mediterranean, and grown extensively in Spain, Morocco, Turkey, South Africa, Australia, California, Florida, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina. It was certainly the Brazilian Navel orange called Bahia that was introduced to the US in 1870 to fill the need for a good early variety. Navels are seedless and propagate by cuttings and were imported by the USDA in Washington, who distributed them to growers in Florida and California, and thus acquiring the name of Washington Navel.
Available: June to October
Valencias – deliciously sweet and juicy, used for juicing as well as eating.
Valencia is the most important commercial variety in the world, living up to its nickname of the “King of Juice Oranges”. Valencia accounts for 50% of the total Florida fruit crop and the principal variety used for processing into juice. The Valencia originated in China and was taken to Europe by Portuguese or Spanish voyagers. The Valencia is perfect for the tropics, even though colour development may vary when the weather is hot. It has a thin and slightly pebbly rind. The flesh is bright orange and extremely juicy and nearly seedless. Valencia is a late orange, which has a smooth, thin skin, and contains few if any seeds, pale flesh, a sharp flavour, and is very juicy.
Available: November to February
Other smaller orange varieties grown in Australia – the hamlin, the parson brown, the pineapple and the salustiana.
Hamlin originated as a chance seedling in a grove near Glenwood, Florida, owned by A. G. Hamlin, and has become the most widely grown orange variety in Florida. Valencia has a green tinge on the skin which is actually nature’s own suncscreen! It protects the orange from the hot climate in Australia at that time of the year. Salustianas are a very rare, seedless, and juicy orange.
Ref: iinvista and PIRSA Horticulture.
Citrus growers are well placed throughout Australia to provide exceptional tasting citrus from winter through to summer.
The key orange varieties are navels and Valencias.
Navels are mainly grown in three southern growing regions – the Murray Valley, the Riverina of NSW and the Riverland of South Australia. Valencias are mainly grown in the Riverina.
Navel oranges Navels are the largest grown varieties in Australia and available during the winter from June – August. Sweet and juicy, they are rich in orange colour, seedless and easy to peel.
Valencias are one of the largest orange varieties grown in Australia and available from November to February – the summer months. Deliciously sweet and juicy, they are ideal for eating and juicing.